A little bit of a rant from Meg
I have the secret!
Wait for it….
- Buy a gorgeous bikini
- Put it on
- Go to the beach
No way. Really?
Yep, it really is that simple!
In the run up to the summer holidays there are so many special offers with gyms, slimming clubs and personal trainers, offering their services to get you get “beach ready.” They may involve some kind of boot camp, a special detox or join for free special offer.
And while I respect that everyone has to make a living, there’s something about promotions like these that make me a bit uneasy.
Think back to your last holiday at the beach. How many cellulite free, wobble free, six pack perfect bodies did you see?
I didn’t see any.
Every single person in the beach or at the hotel resort poolside that is wearing a bikini has flaws.
Cellulite, thread veins, stretch marks, lumps and bumps, scars. Large, small, fat, thin, toned, soft, you will not find the perfect body at the beach. I guarantee you that if you asked every single woman at the beach, they’d be able to tell you one thing they disliked about their body.
And what exactly is the perfect body? What defines that, anyway?
It’s completely subjective. I have my opinion, you have yours, and that’s totally cool.
You know what bugs me about these bikini body campaigns? Is that you’ll work really hard, for months leading up to the holiday to get your “beach body” and then go away for two weeks, party hard, hit the cocktails, hit up the all inclusive buffet, and come home carrying a food baby.
You’ll return home feeling bloated, guilty and back to square one. You’ll then spend MORE money at that slimming club or gym. You might find it hard to get back on the wagon, find it hard to adjust to being home again (post holiday blues, anyone?) and plod along only half heartedly sticking to your diet or fitness plan. Before you know it, it’s September, then it’s October, and the dark nights come back, sedentary evenings in front of the TV with the fire on, comfort food and baggy clothes.
The next thing that you see is “Get little black dress ready!” There are Christmas work parties, nights out, and yet more special offers at the slimming club or gym.
Here’s the thing – slimming clubs and gyms know this. They use smart marketing to guilt you into something that is not sustainable, to make you keep coming back and starting again when you fall off the wagon.
THIS is why obesity statistics in this country are on the rise – we’re in a yo-yo dieting epidemic!
Diet’s don’t work – and here’s why.
Just over two years ago, when I first started this blog, I had just lost around 35lbs for my sister’s wedding. I had weighed in on the scales at the heaviest weight I’d ever been in my adult life after a rough winter and a severe bout of depression, and had to buy a pair of size 20 jeans.
It was mid March 2014, and my sister was getting married on 8th July 2014. I didn’t want to be a fat bridesmaid – I was on a mission.
I started running again, doing HIIT workouts, and logging every single bite on My Fitness Pal. I stuck rigidly to between 1200 and 1400 calories a day, allowed myself a treat at weekends, and constantly repeated a mantra inside my head “I’m dieting for the wedding, I won’t be a fat bridesmaid.”
As a former group fitness instructor and personal trainer, I was no stranger to hard work. I loved working out, but getting my nutrition right was something that always seemed to be just beyond my reach.
In the run up to my sister’s wedding, my focus was on one event – and while I do agree that goals should be specific and time measured, I think when it comes to weight loss, the SMART goal setting principle is massively flawed.
Setting a goal to lose weight for a certain event is a sure fire way to set yourself up for failure.
With all your focus on one thing, there is no lifestyle change.
I know, because I’ve done for as long as I can remember. I did it for my best friend’s wedding at the age of 21. I had no choice – our bridesmaid dresses had been bought from TK MAXX in whatever size we could get them. The style of dress meant there wasn’t much room for adjustment, so I had no choice but to diet to fit into it. At the time I was so proud of myself when I did fit into it, but looking back and remembering now, I wasn’t healthy. I walked five miles daily and ate less than 1000 calories a day for about three months. It wasn’t sustainable, and after the wedding I put weight on again.
A year later came my own wedding. Lather, rinse, repeat. That was 11 years ago and since then, a baby, a divorce, depression, and lots of big changes in my life have meant that the comfort eating, yo-yo-dieting, binge eating mentality has become so deeply rooted in my mind that I’ve often wondered if it was just my destiny to be fat.
Back to my sister’s wedding two years ago. Did I mention it was a destination wedding? She lived in Spain for two years, so it was only natural that she wanted to go back to that beautiful area again. We were going to be staying at luxury villa with a pool. I might have to wear – gasp – a bikini!!!
That was also motivation for me. I bought a tankini, and a bikini. I debated bringing the bikini, but closer to the time, having stuck to my “diet”, exercised really hard (I ran a half marathon during this time), I decided to pack it anyway.
The wedding was lovely, and on our days by the pool I wore my tankini for the first week or so. Then in the last four days, I decided to be brave and put on my bikini. I was being a little vain, I wanted an all over tan!!! Actually, vain probably isn’t the best word. Though I’d lost 35 lbs, I was nowhere near where I wanted to be and I was nervous about baring so much skin, but I was also aware that a tan might also help to hide the stretch marks a bit on my belly, so I sucked it up, sucked it in, and wore a bikini!
I needn’t have worried. No one really cared nor noticed. Or, if they did notice, they didn’t comment.
Though, I’m sure if I’d had six pack abs, someone would have commented.
Anyway, I got a lovely tan and came back feeling on top of the world.
Last year, we didn’t get a beach holiday. We had road trip around England which was more raincoats than bikinis, so at the start of 2016, when we started talking about holidays, we really were leaning towards a beach holiday.
It was a cold, dark January night and me and my parents were sitting around their kitchen table with a few glasses of wine after dinner. I was still in the very early days of my recovery from my car accident, and feeling very low. The weather was awful, the days were dark, and a sun holiday seemed like the ultimate pick me up.
So, we booked it, there and then. Two weeks in Spain in July.
My first thought: I’ve got 6 months to get a bikini body.
My second thought: Shit, my shoulder really hurts.
I pretty much accepted then that I wouldn’t have a bikini body. I was still in a lot of pain, the only exercise I was able to do was walking, and my mood was very low, which meant I was still in a comfort eating mentality. I was also really aware of the pattern of yo-yo dieting that I’d been in for a while, and I knew that I wanted to take steps to break the pattern. I also knew, however, that if I tried to set a goal for losing a certain amount of weight for my holiday, I would just be repeating that pattern all over again.
My recovery from my accident was slow and painful, and while I lost a few pounds, ran a 10k, and generally felt a bit healthier by the end of June, I was nowhere near “bikini body” ready.
It didn’t matter, though.
I was determined to enjoy my holiday with my son and my family. The first day, I put my tankini on and covered up. I went down to the pool by our apartment and found a sun lounger. It was quiet, but when I looked around, I saw a few girls who were roughly around the same size as me – and another girl who was much bigger.
They were all wearing bikinis – and they didn’t care. They didn’t seem to make any attempt to cover up when they got off the sun lounger to get into the pool. The next day, I put my bikini on too, and tried not to worry too much – no one was looking at me anyway!
Now, let me make one thing clear – I am not in any way promoting or glorifying being overweight. I fully understand the health risks relating to being overweight or obese, and it’s something that I’m aware of in my own journey. I’m also not shaming those who do have a fuck-awesome bikini body. I take my hat off to those who work hard in the gym all year round to maintain it, and envy those who are lucky enough to be naturally lean without any hard work.
But what I am saying is, it’s okay if you aren’t where you want to be. It’s okay if you have a belly and you let it hang out on holiday and you don’t care. It’s okay if you have a washboard stomach and perfect butt and want to show off your body. It’s okay if you have stretch marks, cellulite and lumps and bumps. It’s okay if you DO want to wear a tankini and cover up your belly.
Do whatever the fuck makes YOU comfortable, and ENJOY your holiday time with your family. Precious memories were made with my son on that holiday. He didn’t care what I was wearing. There were all shapes and sizes at the beach, and everyone was having FUN.
That’s not to say that I wouldn’t like a better figure by next summer to show off in a bikini. I’ve been doing a lot of reading, thinking, and reflecting on my journey so far, and I don’t want to keep repeating this yo-yo pattern.
It’s not my destiny to be overweight.
I want to run a sub 60 10k.
I want to run another half marathon.
I want to run a marathon, maybe, someday.
I want to complete an Olympic distance Triathlon.
I want to do an Ironman, someday.
All of these things are possible to train for right now, but I know they’ll be easier if I lose some body fat.
I want to learn to surf, so I can take my son surfing. I’m too clumsy and heavy for that right now .
I want to go skiing again some day, and take my son on a skiing holiday.
Underneath this fat suit is the body of an athlete. One who, has never really been able to reach her full potential. For all the hard exercise I’ve done over the years, I’m proof that you can’t out-train a bad diet.
There’s only so many times you can go round in circles before you get absolutely sickened by the dizziness of it all. Before something snaps inside you and screams “ENOUGH!”
I am so ready to break this cycle. I am so ready to see what my body can do. I am so ready to reach my full potential.
As a way of keeping accountable, I am posting daily pictures on Instagram of my progress. The account is @each_sparkling_step and I’d love it if you’d come and join me over there to support my journey. Posts on this blog have been very sporadic, but I am committing to updating more regularly.
Follow my journey as I transform my health, body and mind.
And maybe get a bikini body while I’m at it 😉